My summer has been super busy, not busy at all, boring, exciting, a whirlwind. That statement makes sense when you realize it was written with someone who has DID and it’s the feelings of many “alters” inside. The summer crew is still quite a mystery to me. For those just tuning in, my DID system is kind of divided into two systems. We have one that is our for part of Spring and then all of the Summertime. Then, we have the other group which I know a lot more about that is out during the Fall and Winter. Oh and we have a few that go between both systems. We had a little bit more functional summer this year I believe because we had some parts from the Fall system stick around here and there to help keep things running smoothly. In the summertime, our schedule goes out the window. We don’t work summers and so therefore the summer crew has very little grasp on how to keep up with things like housework, meals, laundry, grocery shopping, etc. So, this summer they have had a little help with that. Still, it’s really hard because we don’t know the summer parts very well if at all. There are lots of them and they are like a blur when they run out to be in charge of the body and when they blur back in again. There is a LOT less communication in the summer crew compared to the Fall crew.
I did have an interesting dream a few nights ago. It is one of those that I recognize now as a “DID dream”. I dreamt that I was laying on my bed and at the far end of the room there were stairs leading up to the attic (it’s not really my room, but was in my dream). I remember in the dream being afraid of going up there, but I heard noises and was afraid someone was in the house. I remembered one time that my best friend went up there with me and helped me not to be so afraid of it. (Interesting cuz she was the one who was with us when we were diagnosed back in ’94 and has been so supportive). Then, one by one, a pre-teen girl would slip down the stairs where I could see them. I was afraid at first but then I ran to them and asked them why they were in my attic. They didn’t answer. I told them that I would not tell their parents they were in my house without permission if they explained to me what was wrong. One girl started to cry at the mention of telling her parents. Started out there were 3, then, 4, then 5 girls. After a while, even more girls around the same age started coming down the stairs to let me know they were there.
So I think insiders are starting to reveal themselves to me slowly in their time. I remember one girl who really struck me, she had the prettiest strawberry hair.
Several years ago back early in my diagnosis, I would often have a dream of girls coming into my house while I was asleep or not there or whatever. The dream felt so real that in remembering it I had to really think if it really happened or not. It was a dream, but I see it as my insiders starting to reveal themselves to me. Dreams have always been a big part of how my system communicates with me.
I wish I could say that we were able to talk about the transference and our journey since the triggers in group over a month ago tonight. Truth is, once we got there we found it difficult to remember to breathe and were spaced a lot. It wasn’t a triggered out spacing out but just not able to ground and focus. Parts occasionally wanted to talk and did, but other parts who wanted to talk were too scared to. We feel awkward around the T that we have transference with…………. 😦 We did miss the group members very much, though.
I am placing a TRIGGER WARNING here. While there are no details of a specific memory, there is talk of strong emotion/sensation relating to abuse. Only read if you are feeling safe and able to. Thanks.
If you’ve been reading our blog, then you know we have been having many symbolic dreams lately. It seems a layer of memory(ies) is trying to break through. I dreamt that I was a very small child lying on a bed curled up in the fetal position sleeping. I felt this impending terror. I KNEW something was coming and then whatever it was – this invisible force – pulled me off the bed and downwards. I woke crying out, terrified. I feel like it is connected to a memory and it doesn’t surprise me that the person who took me from the bed was invisible. I am sure it means that the system knows we are not ready for that much information at once. Thing is, I have several memories where I have the knowledge of what happened but nothing else, and in none of those was I taken from the bed. This kinda scares me even though I have always known there was more that I hadn’t retained the knowledge of.
I have the recent and then the recurring dreams where terror is the main element. The terror is, to no surprise, connected to the beds and also to certain rooms in buildings or houses. In the recurring dreams of the house that was “haunted”, I was terrified to go to certain parts of the house, in particularly one entire floor. In part, I believe that the dreams are symbolic of how I relate to the memories. Like how I would try to make myself climb the stairs to the “haunted floor”, terror would build the higher I would climb until I would be so terrified that I would turn and run back downstairs. I also, obviously, recognize the terror as a layer of memory that is very real and was experienced at one time in my life on a daily basis.
Another possibility that I am aware of is that the house in the recurring dream may be a part of our internal world. Maybe a house where memories are stored. This is something that I am not positive of, but it feels quite possible.
Posted in Alters, Dealing with Painful Memories, Dissociation, Dissociative Identity Disorder, Dreams, Emotions
Tagged abuse, alters, DID, Dissociation, Dissociative Identity Disorder, memories, nightmares
Memories can come in layers as I am coming to learn all too well. I used to think that as the alters felt I was ready, they would share the memories in chunks or events as many as was needed for me to fully recover. Now, I’m seeing it’s not nearly that simple. I always knew that we were fragmented to the degree that the emotions were separated into different alters. What I didn’t realize fully was that emotions from each event can be stored in certain alters. As well as body sensations that come forward in the form of body memories that we get all too often and don’t know what they are connected to. In my most recent session with T, we were reminded of the BASK model of dissociation. BASK stands for Behavior, Affect, Sensation, and Knowledge. So, memories can be dissociated into those categories:
- Behavior: the actions that occurred/what happened
- Affect: The emotions associated with the event
- Sensation: the sensations that the body feels/body memories
- Knowledge: the meaning
I have some memories that are of the Behavior/Actions. I can rattle them off to my T one by one as if it were me talking about someone else. I guess, in many ways it is someone else. Then, I have been having sensation/body memories for years. Those suck because you FEEL the things that the body felt during a particular memory, but you have no freaking idea what happened. I have had the Affect part of it, too, as in my emotions have always been like a roller coaster ride. I would cry at the drop of a hat, or get angry – much more angry than whatever the current event called for, and fear – so much fear about everything. All the feelings are coming from parts of my system that were created to hold them. And lately, terror has begun to surface on a more real level for me. I will blog about another recent dream I had tomorrow. Until then, stay tuned. . . .
Posted in Alters, Dealing with Painful Memories, DID Recovery, Dissociation, Dissociative Identity Disorder, Emotions
Tagged abuse, alters, anger, DID, Dissociation, Dissociative Identity Disorder, memories
Hey, have you heard? Halle Berry stars as a woman who has DID in the 70’s (so I imagine it was called MPD or something else back then). It is based on a true story of a woman’s life. The woman is still alive today and living a functional life with her alters, has a family, and is a teacher. We think it will be really good! Currently it is showing in theaters in LA and New York, but will be out everywhere else in February 2011!! We can’t wait! Finally a movie where the DID person isn’t a murderer or something terrible, huh?
I apologize for not writing lately. We had a couple of really good days in the last week. The rest of it was either struggling with emotions just under the surface, nightmares, or oh yeah dropping something really heavy onto my foot. Went to the ER and it’s not broken, just badly bruised and swollen.
Before writing about the recent nightmares, I should update about the Group. My sister was able to come through town to see me but could only stay for a few hours. And yes it just so happened to occur at the exact time that my Group was. So, I had to miss it which was probably a relief to some of our parts, but many of us were quite disappointed cuz we wanted to work through the transference issues and all so we could move forward. Still, the visit with our sister was very much needed as we had been feeling very depressed. I only see her maybe once a year and the rest of the family I see even less. So, it was a very, very nice visit.
The past few nights have been especially bad with the nightmares. One that just recently came to mind was of being in a haunted house of sorts. I was in my Aunt M’s house and in it, all of her furniture (the beds mostly) were “haunted”. It’s interesting as I type this out and see the symbolism. I would try to sleep but was so afraid of the “ghosts” that were going to come and get me. I would try sleeping in a different bed, but the same unseen source of terror was there. I woke several times during the night terrified, unable to recognize where I was or how old I was. In the dream, Aunt M’s house was large and had a lot of old furniture in it. Everything seemed to loom over my small frame.
I have had dreams many times in the past of haunted houses. One that has been a recurring dream over the years is about this house that was several stories high. The top floor was always riddled with spirits of the unkind variety. I would try to go up there (in these dreams I am an adult……most of the time) because my best friend and I had just moved in and I wanted to make use of all the space. Often times I wouldn’t even make it all the way up the stairs before terror would grip me and I would run back down again often times screaming. Sometimes, I would make it to that top floor. I remember once that it was mostly bedrooms on that floor. I remember vaguely something about a fancy red blanket on one of the beds. It’s one of the shades of red that are triggering to me. The whole room actually now that I think about it had shades of red in it. Another time I had this dream and I made it all the way to the top floor, it was mostly dark and I couldn’t see anything, but I could FEEL all the sheer blinding terror. I ran back down the stairs swearing that I would not ever use the top floor of the house.
It still amazes me as I finally bring myself to write about something that to me seemed to be quite scary but “surely didn’t mean anything” only to realize that it was full of symbolism. The symbolism of the childhood and what those beds really were “haunted” with were the bad things that the bad people did to me/us there.
Posted in Alters, Dealing with Painful Memories, Dissociation, Dissociative Identity Disorder, Dreams, Emotions, Therapy
Tagged abuse, alters, amnesiac alters, DID, Dissociation, Dissociative Identity Disorder, nightmares, triggers
We were watching Lie to Me the other day and the end of this episode really jumped out at me. I wanted to share my thoughts on it.
Lie To Me Season 1 Episode 5 “Unchained”
Lightman: When someone bashes you around who’s twice your size just whenever he feels like it, you learn to read emotions pretty fast. We adapt to survive. Your abuse made you a natural. He made you what you are.
Torres: Well, I’ll be sure to thank him.
This case in this episode was difficult for Torres because they were dealing with a violent criminal to see if he had changed from his violent ways. Torres had a history of violent abuse so this was especially a tough one for her. I liked what Lightman says to her in the end of the episode.
Lightman: When someone bashes you around who’s twice your size just whenever he feels like it, you learn to read emotions pretty fast. We adapt to survive. Your abuse made you a natural. He made you what you are.”
She is referred to as a natural at reading faces and expressions. I have always believed that those of us who have been through traumas as those with DID have, we learn very early on how to anticipate our abusers next move based on facial expressions among other things. We also learn to “predict” what is going on based on the energy in the room or surrounding an individual. Imagine going to a concert or to a dance club. Upon entering you can feel all that upbeat energy and you know people (most people) are having a really good time. Now imagine entering a home of someone who just lost a loved one. Still feel energy, just this time it is one of sadness and grief. Those of us who have gone through traumatic childhoods especially from a very early age are that much more in tune to the energies surrounding someone.
My best friend used to get annoyed because I could tell what was going on with her even without her saying anything about it to me. I could see it in her face and if she was hiding it well enough, I could still FEEL it in the air around her. It kind of makes me smile when on the show Lie to Me people get irritated at being read so well because I remember my friend and how much it annoyed her. I didn’t do it on purpose, it was just a naturally acquired gift on my part. It was important for our survival living in a family where you didn’t know when or where the next blow or advance was going to come. The need to be hyper-vigilant and hypersensitive to our surroundings was imperative.
In preparation for the Group therapy session on Tuesday, we are writing one of those letters that you don’t actually send to the therapist that we have transference with. We may share parts of the letter with her in the group session. It just depends on how brave we are feeling….
While working on the whole bed/table trigger in therapy, we have come to realize how incredibly triggered we were on many levels. Initially, it was the bed/table trigger and how it triggered the memory of a traumatic event that I still have yet to get a grasp on. Then, it became so much more. When we arrived that second session with the table up, a flood of feelings came up for us. It was initially just you and us and the bed/table. I think this was the beginning of our struggle with transference. You asked if you could “introduce” me to the table and your good work that you do with it. You emphasized how the table was being used for only good and positive things. I understand logically why you did that. You wanted to try to help me separate the bad memory with the current reality of what is. If this had been a memory that I have already processed in therapy, then that might have helped. As it was, I was trapped in the trigger of the memory that was currently mostly feelings of fear. I began floating from the moment I stepped into the room and realized that we were alone in the room with you (who we began to see as our Aunt L) and the bed/table. You asked us to come closer to the bed/table and we did, though most of us had scrambled deep inside so as to not feel the awful fear that comes when near the trigger. We began to transfer the Aunt onto you and saw it as the Aunt asking us to come closer to the bed/table. We became compliant and nodded when you asked us something because we just wanted to get through it. Next, you asked us where we would like to sit. The way the room was set up, the only choices we had were to sit where we would see the table throughout the group session or sit right next to the table facing away. We could not bear either, so we sat at the side and could not look that direction the whole session. Then, you asked if it was okay to sit next to us. It was a good question to ask someone who is struggling, but we were not in the place to say no. We were stuck in the memory and in being compliant as we had to be with the perps so we said “yes”. I was angry with myselves after this because I felt we were too weak to say “no”. However, we were able to say no when the other T asked if we would be okay with you touching us in reassurance. This was a huge accomplishment for us considering everything we were going through internally. I seem to recall a little one coming out briefly and I remember hearing her sob. It was very real, too real, and we pushed her inside due to not feeling safe.
We were confused as to why you would leave it up after learning what a terrible trigger it was for us. We felt unworthy of anyone caring about what we are struggling with. We noticed that the candles that had been lit the week before were not out as they had bothered some group members. Candles do not bother us as we love them, however we understood completely why you would not bring them out due to how it affected the other group members. Yet…..the thing that was even more than just a little bothersome and upsetting to us was left up. This made a big impact on us as it sent the message that we were not as important or worthy as the other group members are.
The other T talked to us on the phone that week and told us of a couple of options that you guys had come up with to manage this situation. The first idea was that when we arrived at Group, the members and therapists would help in disassembling the bed/table at the start of session. I could join if I felt okay to or if not it was okay. This would only make it much worse for me, adding to the initial trigger and transference, feelings of causing problems in the group. You see, we don’t want to be the center of attention and we definitely don’t want to be a bother to others. We feel that this would be taking time away from the other group members who also pay to be there. We also worry that there will be resentment among other group members. This group is for all of us and to have the other members all do something specifically for us would send us plunging into despair for fear of burdening others. It was totally not going to be okay with us. The other Group T said that was not your goal and that you both had hoped that this would send us the message that you all care about us. I told her that we wouldn’t receive the message that way at all. We don’t want to take more than others take from group. Even when our T talked to us about the possibility of sharing this letter with you during group, we were uncomfortable as we didn’t want to take away from the other group members’ time. K reminded me that the group was also for me and that my sharing with you about the transference stuff could be helpful for other members to witness.
The second idea was much more doable and one that we were going to suggest ourselves as we did not want to be any more of a burden than necessary. The second idea was to set up a screen so that we would not have to see the bed/table. We feel now that we are not worthy of you taking down the bed/table for whatever reason and that is okay with us as it is not anything we would have expected normally. We only said something because it was a therapy setting and we felt more comfortable asking for something there than we would anywhere else. I imagine it is too much trouble for you to take it down only to have to set it up again for the next day’s clients. My usual response to this situation would be to “grin and bear it” because I do not want to cause anyone trouble and I definitely do not feel okay asking someone to do anything for me. I realize as I write this that it may sound manipulative, but that is not my intent. My intent is to be as honest as possible about the thoughts and feelings that go on inside regarding this situation. We are okay with the screen idea as it is a great compromise on the subject. Still, I felt like I should mention the reactions I was feeling from insiders regarding feeling unworthy, etc.
As we wrote this last part, I was reminded of how we went our whole life without telling anyone about the abuse until I was in my 20’s and went to therapy. I remembered that one of my main reasons for not telling any family was because I didn’t feel like my father could handle the news that I was abused by the uncle. I preferred to “grin and bear it” and endure it alone than my father be hurt by the knowledge of what I went through. This is how much we don’t like to burden others.
We do appreciate any feedback on our letter. As we wrote it, I definitely did not feel okay with sharing it with this T as I am worried it might sound bad/negative. She is a good lady and therapist and we don’t want to make her feel defensive or hurt…..also don’t want to sound petty or anything…..
Posted in Alters, Coconsciousness, Dealing with Painful Memories, Dissociation, Dissociative Identity Disorder, Therapy, Transference
Tagged abuse, Dissociation, Dissociative Identity Disorder, Therapy, transference, triggers
I hope everyone is having a safe and happy Christmas today. I know how holidays can be quite triggering. For many years, I just tried to get through it. Then, I worked on making new holiday traditions to make Christmas our own and not all about the childhood crap. This has helped tremendously as we do stuff for our system and help make positive memories for this holiday season. Don’t forget to use grounding techniques today as needed.
We like to light scented candles like vanilla or cinnamon. We drink hot chocolate and eat healthy foods as well as splurge a bit on cherry cream pie and stuffs (but try not to spurge too much. lol). We love buying presents for our hubby and close friends. Something cool for our hubby is that he gets gifts from lots of our insiders – so more than one present for sure! We let groups of our system buy gifts so that it doesn’t get too awfully crazy with the spending. Also, hubby likes to give us gifts for the inside kids as well as other groups of our system. That’s always cool 🙂 We enjoy watching movies and playing video games, too. We get all of our grocery shopping done early so that we don’t have to go out on Christmas Eve or Christmas day. That definitely helps with the stress and triggers of the day.
Have a happy holiday today.
The whole emotion thing has been a difficult one for me/us. When I did talk with my Aunt M about my childhood and what things she observed, she told me some interesting stuff that further validated the dissociative child that I was. She said that I would cry at the little things like stuff that didn’t matter. Yet, when something big happened that would have anyone upset and in tears, I would zone out and not show any emotion. It made sense because it was not safe to show any emotion around things that REALLY mattered. I didn’t dare show any signs to anyone that there was anything wrong with my life or family. I was told many times that no one is to know what happens behind closed doors or else very bad things would happen. I believed them because. after all, bad things were already happening and I could not imagine what worse things were in store should anyone find out. I know now that those were desperate lies told by my perpetrators to keep me in silence. It also reinforced my dissociative behavior.
Having DID, everything is compartmentalized. The most frustrating thing for me as well as the best thing is the fact that the emotions are so compartmentalized. Some alters are created for that very reason – to hold specific emotion that was deemed unsafe. I have one insider whose name is RAGE. When it is written on paper, it is in red, all capital letters: RAGE. Almost none of us can handle anger and most definitely none of us can handle the whole rage emotion. It was not okay to be angry as a child. For one, when the perps were angry, very bad things happened. For another, the adults in our life did not find anger an acceptable emotion for us to have. Add to that, the feeling that we did not feel worthy of being treated well by the family and therefore did not feel justified in the least to feel angry about anything that was being done to me. I still struggle with this today. This is also why I have trouble feeling most things when dealing with the childhood and what was done to me. I don’t feel comfortable feeling sad or angry as I never felt worthy enough to expect any kind of treatment other than being treated as a rag doll – one to be used and thrown away until the next time. I know on some level that I was worthy of love and acceptance just as much as anyone else would be, but it is difficult to believe wholly due to my upbringing. It was the adults in my life that were wrong, not me, for I was only a child. I can say the words, but believing them with my whole being is a long way off.
Towards the beginning of my DID recovery journey, I learned that the different parts of the system have different thresholds for emotion, pain, etc. This made a lot of sense to me as I related it to my system. I have many parts, myself included, that do not express anger. If something happens to cause us to feel anger, those parts switch inside and someone else takes over who is able to handle that emotion. Kristy is one of those parts who can handle anger. She has red hair and green eyes and is an age slider from 17 to 19 years old. I guess in the mind of the child who created her, redheads are allowed to have tempers and feel anger. Typical, due to the stereotype of redheads, huh? Still, even Kristy has her limit on the whole anger thing. When the anger gets to be too much, Kristy switches inside and her twin K comes out. She can express much stronger anger than Kristy feels ok with. Then, even K has her limits and if it does cross into rage, then RAGE comes out.
You may notice in my blog entries about tough topics that there is an emotional distancing in my writing. This is because we naturally distance from unsafe emotions. It’s our natural defense mechanism, I suppose. The whole emotion thing connected to a trauma will also have to come in layers for us. It is yet another piece of our healing puzzle.
Posted in Alters, Dealing with Painful Memories, DID Coping, Dissociation, Dissociative Identity Disorder, Emotions, Switching Characteristics
Tagged abuse, alters, anger, DID, Dissociation, Dissociative Identity Disorder, emotions, memories, switching, switching characteristics